Law change 'would save so many lives'

The parents of a young woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant have welcomed the call from Prime Minister Gordon Brown for hospitals to be allowed to re-use the organs of dead people without explicit consent.

The parents of a young woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant have welcomed the call from Prime Minister Gordon Brown for hospitals to be allowed to re-use the organs of dead people without explicit consent.

Richard and Cathy Spurgin of Harleston lost their married daughter, Kate Trevarthen, 24, six years ago. She had suffered from cardiomyopathy.

Since then the couple have been campaigning to have the law changed so that people have to opt out of organ donation during their lifetimes. At present people have to opt in and the shortage of organs leads to hundreds of avoidable deaths each year.

Under the law, even if someone is on the NHS organ donor register, next of kin always have the final decision.


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More than 8,000 people are waiting for a transplant. Last year more than 1,000 died while waiting for a donor organ.

Mr Brown , who carries a donor card, has made it clear he backs a radical revamp of the system which would lead to donation by “presumed consent” - unless a person had expressed a wish during his or her lifetime that their organs should not be used.

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“A system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery in the UK and the limits imposed by our current system of consent,” he said.

Mrs Spurgin said she and her husband were “delighted” by the Prime Minister's remarks. “A change in the system would save so many lives,” she said.

Mr Spurgin, who last week talked to students at Wymondham College about organ donation, has been lobbying politicians for a change in the law.

He regularly speaks to schools and organisations about the issue and he and his wife have raised thousands of pounds for the Cardiomyopathy Society, to be used to help finance research into the disease.

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